Kitchens of Distinction were one of the few dream pop bands that emphasized emotive songwriting as much as swirling guitar atmospherics. Formed in London, England in 1986 by singer and bassist Patrick Fitzgerald, guitarist Julian Swales, and drummer Daniel Goodwin, they named themselves after an advertisement that caught Swales' eye and debuted on their own Gold Rush label with "Last Gasp Death Shuffle" (1987). The song was awarded Single of the Week by NME, after which the band signed to One Little Indian. Two further singles, "Prize" and "The 3rd Time We Opened the Capsule," preceded the release of their first LP, Love Is Hell (1989). Despite critical acclaim for the album and the follow-up Elephantine EP, much of Kitchens of Distinction's early media attention revolved around Fitzgerald, openly gay at a time when such public candor was quite rare.
Though widely considered a cult band, Kitchens entered the U.K. Top 40 with their Hugh Jones-produced second album, Strange Free World (1991). Released on major label A&M in the U.S., it left impressions on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart with the singles "Drive That Fast" and "Quick as Rainbows." The Death of Cool (1992), a wider-scoped set also produced by Jones, generated additional U.S. chart placements with "Smiling" and "4 Men." Following the self-produced Cowboys and Aliens (1994), Kitchens were left without a label but resurfaced on Fierce Panda as Kitchens O.D. with "Feel My Genie" (1996), heralded as Single of the Week by Melody Maker. Shortly thereafter, the band split. Fitzgerald continued to record under the names Fruit and Stephen Hero, and collaborated with Heidi Berry as Lost Girls. Swales made music for television and stage productions.
A few years after Kitchens were anthologized with Capsule: The Best of KOD 1988-94 (2003), they attempted to work together in Fitzgerald's studio but hit a dead end. Fitzgerald, Swales, and Goodwin eventually regrouped yet again and, during a two-year period, casually worked on material that led to Folly (2013), their fifth and final studio album. Kitchens' first four albums, along with their B-sides and radio sessions, were compiled and packaged as a box set, Watch Our Planet Circle (2017). ~ Andy Kellman & Jason Ankeny